Fifty-two seconds — that’s what separated Pope Francis (21-5-3) from the program’s first MIAA Division 1A championship. Two minutes and 22 seconds of elapsed game time later, the Cardinals had suffered a crushing 2-1 OT loss after a dramatic BC High (19-4-1) comeback at TD Garden Sunday.
Eagles’ senior Mav Woods’ mid-slot strike at 1:30 of overtime settled it. The play started when sophomore defenseman Mike Adamson shuttled the puck to senior Timmy Kelly, whose backhand delivery from the left wall found Woods, who beat Pope Francis goalie Victor Larrsen high to the glove side.
“I just knew I was open, so I called for it,” Woods said. “I just knew I was going to bury it. We knew going into overtime that it was our game to win.”
BCH coach John Flaherty was ecstatic that it was Woods who lifted the Eagles’ to their fifth D1A title (sixth overall).
“Mav does thing on the ice that don’t show up on the score sheet. He’s our hardest-working kid in practice and without him doing those things on the ice, we don’t win. I couldn’t be happier for him that he now has this lifetime memory,” Flaherty said.
Woods’ heroics would not have been possible without senior Joe Dragon’s tying goal at 14:08 of the third period. With goalie Luke Garrity (13 saves) still making his way to the Eagles’ bench in favor of an extra attacker, Dragon jumped on a loose puck after an errant clearing attempt, moved to the top of the right circle, and sniped a quick shot over the blocker of Larrsen (25 saves) to tie it, 1-1.
“The puck just stayed at the blue line. I saw a lane, saw the net and just shot it. We were talking about just keep putting shots on net,” Dragon said.
“We were just missing all night. Joey has a quick release – the puck is on his stick and off his stick,” Flaherty said. And, in this instance, in the back of the net.
The title is the Eagles’s first since going back-to-back in 2006-07. They also became the 24th Catholic Conference team to claim the tournament title in its 28 years.
BC High owned a territorial edge during a scoreless first period but Pope Francis’s Max Cocchi had the best chance, snapping a shot from the left circle off the side of Eagles’ keeper Garrity’s mask.
That assault continued in the second period but Larssen remained calm under duress, amassing 15 saves. Included were a blocker save on Mike Grant’s snapper from the left wing, two doorstep stops on Kelly during a three-shot flurry, and a robbery of Thomas Kramer’s mid-slot wrist shot.
Pope Francis took a 1-0 lead with 2:52 left in the second period. Makem Demers flew the zone after blocking a shot, Cocchi hit him with home run pass and Demers snapped a 20-footer past Garrity.
“We battled to the end and we knew if we stuck with it we would have success. I’m so proud of the kids. They didn’t quit,” said Flaherty.
BC High defeated Pope Francis in the tourney’s first round, 6-1, relegating the Cardinals to the Elimination Bracket and finished 3-0-1 against the Cardinals this season.